Want an interior designer that’s right for you? Start with the right criteria

So you’re thinking about using an interior designer. That shows you recognize how a professionally designed space can have a profound effect on how people feel and function. Now it’s time for the next step. To identify possible designers to work with, you’ll likely be doing web searches, reaching out to a few firms, and then eventually arranging onsite visits. But before you get too far into the process, here’s an important question: What criteria will you be using to choose a designer? The following often overlooked considerations can help steer you toward a designer—and a design experience—that’s right for you.

Beyond love and hate: what does the portfolio really say?

When you’re clicking through the portfolio pages of an interior designer’s website or other web outlet, you might see examples you absolutely love. On the other hand, you might also see ones you absolutely loathe. Either way, keep this in mind: The interior designer was working for a specific client, a person or group of people who had a unique set of tastes, needs, and goals for that space. In other words, you aren’t necessarily seeing the style of the designer; you’re seeing the final result of the designer’s attempt to satisfy the client. The lesson here is don’t judge whether a designer is right for you solely by your like or dislike of their examples. You need more to go on than that. Like what? Read on.

Variety: it’s a good sign

So if it’s not just about being ga-ga over a designer’s examples, then what else is there to consider? You should note whether the designer has an eclectic portfolio. Ideally, you want to see that the designer can handle an array of scenarios and can satisfy a variety of design preferences. Why is that relevant to you? Because a diverse portfolio indicates a designer that’s flexible. And that flexibility can benefit you. In the long run, a stylistically nimble designer will serve you much better than a designer with a “signature style.” After all, the style may simply not be yours. Also: What happens when that signature style goes . . . out of style?

Interior design: it’s a personal thing

The kind of experience you have with your interior designer—i.e., the relationship you form—will likely become inextricably linked with the actual space that’s designed. Interior design done right is a very personal process—personal in the best sense. Always remember that it’s you who’ll be living or working in that space for years to come—not the designer. And that’s exactly why you want a designer that thoroughly explores what’s important to you. Even if you consistently defer to a designer’s opinion, the best designers work that much harder to draw out more information from you. Why? Because whether you realize it or not, your thoughts and opinions are crucial for creating a design that ultimately satisfies you.

What everyone should want: money well spent

It may be self-evident but let’s just state the obvious: You’re going to be spending money to change a space (or possibly create a new one). You want those changes to be positive ones, and you want to feel like it was money well spent. By keeping the above factors in mind, you’ll be much more likely to find a designer that wants the very same for you.